MUSIC FOR A GREAT SPACE PRESENTS:
BENJAMIN BLOZAN, PIANO and MUSIC DIRECTOR
RICHARD WITTINGTON, NARRATOR
INSPIRATA's mission is to perform uplifting inspirational music, regardless of origin or genre. Whether contemporary, symphonic or sacred, their repertoire will always reflect this commitment.
When INSPIRATA first formed, it was to provide the artists with an opportunity to sing outside the traditional concert, musical, and opera stages the singers already graced. Starting with oratorio, the most similar to opera, the ensemble began to widen their choices of music. The group eventually came to the realization that there are compositions from nearly every style of music that take on an additional burnish and complexity when sung by classical voices. It is those pieces that the group excels in presenting. By performing contemporary pieces like The Prayer and Nella Fantasia, giving new life to brilliant Broadway classics, and showcasing amazing finds from many other genres and eras, the group has created a new multi-layered sound that has proven to be a winning formula that listeners, regardless of generation, love to hear.
In 2011 INSPIRATA produced their first album, Sacred Sounds. The group is now working on producing their second album, featuring musical theatre and beautiful moving harmonies by contemporary composers from around the world.
Click on the individual names below to read more about the performer.
Soprano Elizabeth Claxton's first role was Annie, at the age of eight. Since that time, she has become a highly praised soprano known throughout Europe and the United States for her vocal prowess. She is equally at home presenting opera, operetta, musical theatre, oratorio, and symphonic concerts. Her performances have garnered numerous rave reviews: "brought the audience to their feet," "spectacular," and "perfection." A graduate of Shorter College, GA, with a Bachelor of Music, she completed her classical training with a degree in Performing Arts from the Royal Academy of Music in London. In addition, Ms. Claxton has won many prizes and scholarships, including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Regional District Audition.
Cheryse McLeod Lewis
Mezzo-Soprano Cheryse McLeod Lewis has performed leading roles at opera companies throughout the United States. Commended for her "stunning vocal power" (Asheville Citizen-Times) and "rich lyric-mezzo sound" (Opera News Online), Ms. Lewis has received rave reviews for her portrayal of the title role in Carmen, Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Hansel (Hansel and Gretel), the Mother (Amahl and the Night Visitors), and Prince Orlofsky (Die Fledermaus). On the concert stage, Ms. Lewis has appeared with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, New Britain (CT) Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, and the Greensboro Oratorio Society. Ms. Lewis also performs with the classical vocal duo Eleganza and debuted at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in 2011. Ms. Lewis is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, UNC Greensboro, and the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute at UNC School of the Arts.
Tenor Duane Moody made his operatic debut at the Kennedy Center, Washington, DC. With his "warm tones...rich and mellow even in the highest register" (Backstage magazine), the tenor is identified as a "triple threat"; a combination of magnificent voice, acting abilities, and dance prowess. Among his many accolades, he has been described as possessing "star quality (with) a genuine sense of humor and unaffected likeability" (critic Matthew Murray). As a principal tenor with the renowned Three Mo' Tenors, he spent several years touring national and international stages, as well as appearing in numerous opera, oratorio, concert, and musical theater roles. The tenor holds a graduate performance degree from the Peabody Institute and a Master of Operatic Arts from Boston University. Mr. Moody is an associate professor of voice at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA.
Critics have described baritone Steven Jepson as "a diamond mine" with a "rich and powerful voice" and "a top-notch musician." With an operatic repertoire of over thirty leading roles, he has expansive credits in the Americas, Europe, and Japan. In the operatic world he made his European debut as Carmen's Escamillo, now a signature role for the baritone, and in the United States, he made his Carnegie Hall debut in Schubert's Mass in G. Gifted in displaying a wide range of emotion, vocal agility, and acting styles, Mr. Jepson is also lauded for his work in musical theatre, cabaret, sacred works, and symphonic programming. Holding degrees from the University of Iowa and Louisiana State University, Mr. Jepson is a distinguished teacher and clinician and shares his performance skills by serving on a number of college faculties.
Musical Director/Pianist/Composer Benjamin Blozan is active as a collaborative pianist, vocal coach, and music director throughout the United States. Currently, he is the principal coach at University of North Carolina at Greensboro's Opera Department. Other professional operatic engagements have included the Opera North, Nashville Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Lake George Opera, Greensboro Opera, and Delaware Valley Opera Company. He recently conducted Gilbert and Sullivan's Trial by Jury at the Carolina Theater for Greensboro Opera's "Opera at the Carolina." Mr. Blozan holds an M.M. in Accompanying and Opera Coaching from Temple University and is in the final stage of earning his D.M.A. in Accompanying and Chamber Music from UNCG. In addition to his degree work, Mr. Blozan has attended workshops at the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria; Académie Internationale d'Eté de Nice; and the Académie de Villecroze. His primary mentors are Andrew Harley, James Douglass, Lambert Orkis, Dalton Baldwin, John Douglas, and Charlie Abramovic.
Richard Whittington, (Managing Director/Co-Founder Triad Stage) earned an M.F.A. in Theatre Management from the Yale School of Drama and has a B.F.A. in Acting and Directing from Marymount Manhattan College. He and his family moved to Greensboro in 1998 to start Triad Stage. Mr. Whittington serves on the Executive Committee of the NC Arts Council and previously served on the boards of ArtsNC and Downtown Greensboro, Inc., in addition to numerous grant panels throughout North Carolina as well as the Florida Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Mr. Whittington has taught Theatre Management at Greensboro College and NC A&T University and guest lectured at UNC Chapel Hill, UNC School of the Arts, Wake Forest University, and UNC Greensboro. A native of Dallas, Texas, Mr. Whittington's previous experience includes the Ensemble Company for the Performing Arts (ECPA), the Dallas Theater Center, The Big D Festival of the Unexpected, Roundabout Theatre in New York, and StageWest in Massachusetts.
Please thank the sponsors of this concert:
Special Dining Opportunity to Celebrate 17 Days Greensboro!
Save the Date!
Join MGS before the INSPIRATA Vocal Ensemble Concert as we kick off the 17 Days Greensboro Arts and Culture Festival! Dinner will be at 5:30pm at Christ United Methodist Church in Greensboro. Please purchase the appropriate ticket to indicate your choice of vegetarian/pasta, salmon, or 6oz. filet. All proceeds from the dinner will support MGS.
Tickets: $18.50, a $1.50 handling fee will be added per ticket.
PLEASE NOTE: Tickets will NOT be available for purchase at the venue for this event.
** Deadline to purchase tickets is Monday, September 17! **
Please order tickets through the Carolina Theatre.
Join us after the concert for a reception hosted by: